Saturday, 25th January 2014: Mansfield Town 2, Wycombe Wanderers 2
The home side had the better chances over the 90 minutes in a game played on a bog of a pitch in torrential rain.
But visiting keeper Matt Ingram was man of the match with a string of saves.
Stuart Lewis had put Wycombe ahead on nine minutes with a shot from outside the box that caught out Alan Marriott.
Ingram made save after save and the game looked lost when Josh Scowen doubled the lead three minutes after the break.
But Stags’ fightback began seven minutes later with another goal from Lee Stevenson.
And Ollie Palmer came on as a late sub to grab the deserved equaliser four minutes from time.
Wycombe were left clinging on at the end of a game that will give Mansfield a real boost, despite the result.
Mansfield went with an unchanged side, but there was a surprise place on the bench for Stags winger Sam Clucas, who had only just come back into training after injury this week.
Wycombe had won just one in the last 13 League games and gave debuts to new signings Reece Styche and Jordan Mustoe with another newcomer, Anthony Jeffrey, on the bench.
Before the game a massive thunderstorm passed over the ground. That left puddles in the South Stand goalmouth and in the touchline in front of the West Stand which had groundsman Michael Merriman working hard with his water hog to try to soak them up in time for kick-off.
But as early as the third minute a Sutton backpass caused worry as it began to slow on the wet surface and Marriott had to be quick to get there first and clear.
On five minutes Stags threatened for the first time as Dyer’s pass across the box square to Westlake saw him force a save from Ingram and Rhead’s follow-up blocked before it could reach goal.
Instead the visitors scored with their first attempt on goal on nine minutes.
A quickly-taken free kick inside the Stags half saw a ball played in to Lewis in space over 25 yards from goal and he looked up and planted a finish inside the right hand post with Marriott rooted to the spot.
It was just what Mansfield didn’t want against a side lacking in confidence in the early stages
Wanderers then quickly cleared Stags’ first corner of the day.
On 13 minutes Ingram made a fine save to keep his side ahead.
Howell jinked past a defender to get into the box and find Stevenson. He lifted the ball to the right hand post where Rhead’s volley was brilliantly parried by the keeper.
Another home corner was easily cleared and Wycombe briefly threatened two on two on the break.
Dyer’s flick saw Stevenson send a volley straight at the keeper, but Arnold was closer at the other end with a low 25 yard effort that skidded inches wide on the wet surface.
Stevenson won the home side a third corner on the right on 22 minutes. Jennings took that and curled it right across the face of goal, the ball deflecting out for another corner.
This time Jennings sent it in from the left, Dempster headed on and Tafazolli powered a header over at the far post.
The visitors then won a couple of corners of their own.
The first was headed clear by Tafazolli and Dempster, the second seeing Styche head straight at Marriott.
Jennings then curled in another decent corner from the right which Ingram claimed superbly, almost on his line.
Stumbles on the wet surface by Dyer and then Howell put Stags under more pressure, Marriott eventually able to kick clear.
The home fans, wanting to see more football played on the ground, cheered ironically when Marriott rolled the ball out to Tafazolli instead of launching it downfield and then cheered a string of passes before shouting a big ‘hoof’ as Sutton went long.
It was hardly encouraging to their side.
Dyer almost levelled out of the blue on 33 minutes but his dipping 25 yard effort was turned over by Ingram.
Jennings needed treatment after taking a blow to the head while challenging Ingram for a superb Stevenson cross, but was able to continue.
In first half stoppage time, Wycombe had a couple of corners from the right which Mansfield survived.
They were unlucky to go in a goal down, having had the best chances.
Dempster headed Clements’ free kick just over from a Dyer flick on the restart, but an offside flag was up anyway.
Instead the Chairboys stormed into a 2-0 lead on 48 minutes.
Arnold crossed from the right by-line and, from 12 yards out, Scowen buried a vicious rising right foot volley that gave Marriott no chance.
Within three minutes Cox withdrew Dyer and pitched Clucas into the action.
Soon after Dempster missed the target from a right wing corner with a header under pressure.
Stevenson saw a 20 yard shot deflect wide for a corner on 55 minutes, and from that Stags pulled a goal back.
The ball broke for Howell, whose low shot was blocked. But it rolled into the path of Stevenson five yards from goal and he made no mistake, slotting under Ingram.
Clucas did well to get a header onto a Jennings cross that hung in the wind, but couldn’t keep it down as it sailed over the bar.
Soon after Clucas sent a tame shot at Ingram, gathered low at his near post. But the winger was clearly out to make an impression.
Then a Rhead flick-on header bounced straight through to Ingram who had to make sure it didn’t bounce past him.
On 61 minutes Dempster was booked for a late tackle on Arnold as the visitors tried to break on the Stags.
From that came a let-off. Arnold sent a teasing ball into the box and, with no defenders near him, McClure lifted a finish over from close range from where he should have scored.
Stags won a free kick on the left by-line. The angle was almost impossible and Clements curled it across goal and wide of the far post.
Clements was too high with his dipping 30 yard free kick as we entered the last 15 minutes.
Then Jeffrey was too high over the far angle at the other end.
With 10 minutes to go, Stags threw on striker Palmer for defender Dempster.
And with four minutes left Palmer was the hero with the equaliser.
Clements tried his luck with a 20 yard effort that Ingram did superbly well to reach and tip onto the bar. But he was left on on the floor as Palmer followed up to find the empty net from close range.
The home fans were now in full cry behind their side and in the last minute Clements had a long range effort deflect and force another great save out of Ingram.
On 90+2 Stevenson was booked for his foul on Scowen as Wanderers held on and almost nicked it themselves when Jeffrey broke and forced Marriott to save at his near post.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster (Palmer 80), Tafazolli; Westlake, Clements, Stevenson, Howell, Jennings; Rhead, Dyer (Clucas 51). Subs not used: Riley, Beevers, Meikle, McGuire, Daniel. WYCOMBE: Ingram; McCoy, Johnson, Doherty, Mustoe; Arnold, Scowen, Lewis, Wood; Styche (Jeffrey 70), McClure (Hause 83). Subs not used: Stewart, Horlock, Kuffour, Kewley-Graham, Kretzschmar. REFEREE: Tim Robinson of West Sussex.
ATTENDANCE: 2,789 (258 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Clements.